PARIS — More than half a year after taking over a turbulent department, Paris police Chief Michael Madden said a renewed force will make drug trafficking its top priority.

“If you set up shop and are selling drugs in Paris, your days are numbered,” Madden said.

Hired last October, Madden told selectmen Tuesday night that the support from residents, selectmen, and interim police Chief Jerry Hinton helped turn the police force around.

“I believe in the short time we’ve made great progress to get the department back to where it was,” Madden said.

On Tuesday night, Madden presented selectmen with a seven-month review, saying the department has made great strides to update its policies, reduce crime and foster a morale supporting “brotherhood and camaraderie.”

“Our officers are no longer worried about whether their jobs are going to be here tomorrow or if their shift or assignment has been changed for some arbitrary reason or punitive sanction,” Madden said.

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The force has increased from eight to 13, and there are plans to hire another full-time officer. The most recent addition, former interim Chief Michael Dailey, brings decades of experience, while Detective Sgt. Jeffrey Lang’s overhaul of investigation techniques has helped double solve-rates for most felony crimes, he said.

“These are very good officers,” Madden said.

The changes almost didn’t happen.

In February 2013, selectmen announced they would negotiate with the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office for police coverage, which would have meant disbanding the department.

After months of fierce debate that hurt morale, two-thirds of voters rejected the proposal in a June referendum.

Within a month of the vote, Paris Town Manager Amy Bernard and Hinton launched a nationwide search for a new chief, eventually selecting Madden, a 28-year law enforcement veteran who left his job as deputy chief in Shelton, Conn., last October.

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Rebooting the department has involved overhauling its governing policies and procedures. In November, selectmen authorized Maddden to revise policies that hadn’t been updated since the 1990s.

The manual addresses everything from the number of buttons on an officer’s uniform to procedures to address an active shooter.

Working closely with regional and state efforts to combat crime, modernize equipment and converting data into digital form have been milestones for police.

Though it will consult with local and state agencies, Madden said the department will conduct unilateral investigations into drug trafficking and use among adults and — alarmingly — children.

“We are not going to tolerate it. If you have a house here and are conducting business out of it, we’re going to look at taking the house. If you have a car and are conducting drug business out of that, we’ll look to take that,” he said.

Following Madden’s address, selectmen were universal in their praise.

“I’m in awe of the job you’ve done in the last eight months,” board Chairman Robert Kirchherr said.


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